Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Iron Snail

Collision Detection reports: [edited]

This snail lives in hydrothermal vent fields two miles deep in the Indian ocean, and is surrounded by vicious predators.

There’s the 'cone snail', which stabs at its victims with a harpoon-style tooth before injecting them with paralyzing venom.

Then there’s the Brachyuran crab, which has been known to squeeze its prey for three days to make sure it is well-and-truly dead.

The Scaly-foot Gastropod (L. Crysomallon squamiferum) takes the grains of iron sulfide floating in the water around it and incorporates it into the outer layer of its shell.

The shell is 'unlike any other known natural or synthetic engineered armour.' Part of its ability to resist damage seems to be the way the shell deforms when it’s struck: It produces cracks that dissipate the force of the blow, and nanoparticles that injure whatever is attacking it.

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